Maureen O’Sullivan (Maureen Paula O'Sullivan)

Maureen O’Sullivan

Maureen O’Sullivan

She is best remembered for her role of Jane in the Tarzan movies of the 1930s and 1940s. Considered Ireland’s first film star, she is also remembered as the mother of actress Mia Farrow. Born Maureen Paula O’Sullivan in County Roscommon, Ireland, she was the daughter of Mary Fraser Lovatt and Charles Joseph O’Sullivan. Her father had been an officer in the Connaught Rangers of the British Army during World War I. She attended parochial schools in London, Paris, and Dublin. In 1929, while studying in Dublin, she met director Frank Borzage, who was on location for Twentieth Century Fox Studios filming “Song of My Heart” (1930), and he invited the 18 year old for a screen test. She took him up on the offer, the results were very favorable, and she won the part of Eileen O’Brien in “Song of My Heart.” She would move to Hollywood in 1930 to complete the filming, and stayed. She quickly won roles in such films as “Just Imagine” (1930), “So This is London” (1930), and “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” (1931). Considered a popular upcoming actress, after six movies with 20th Century Fox, she signed with MGM in 1932, and was teamed up with Johnny Weissmuller for “Tarzan the Ape Man” (1932), where their on-screen chemistry made them a hit with audiences. She would have a brief affair with Weissmuller in the early 1930s. Fearful of being typecast in the Jane – Tarzan role, she would continue making additional movies other than the popularly demanded Tarzan sequel movies. She would accept roles in such popular films of the period as in “The Thin Man” (1934), in “Anna Karenina” (1935) and in “Pride and Prejudice” (1940). She would reprise her role of Jane Parker in five additional Tarzan movies, the last being “Tarzan’s New York Adventure” (1942). In 1936, she married Australian writer John Farrow, with whom she would have seven children. Of her children, son Michael died in 1958 while learning to fly airplanes, and daughter Mia would become an actress and romantically involved with both Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen. After her last Tarzan movie, Maureen asked to be released from her contract so that she could care for her husband who had just left the Navy suffering with typhoid. She would continue to make occasional movies, appear on television or the stage, and operated a bridal consulting service. Following the death of her husband, John, of a heart attack in 1963, she would remain a widow until 1983, when she married James Cushing. She maintained homes in Arizona and New Hampshire, but it was in her Scottsdale, Arizona that she died in 1998, from complications of heart surgery, at age 87. Having made over 90 movies, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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  • May, 11, 1911
  • Boyle, Ireland


  • June, 23, 1998
  • Scottsdale, Arizona

Cause of Death

  • complications from heart surgery


  • Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery
  • Niskayuna, New York

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